As the vote for Scottish independence draws ever closer, there seems to be no escape from the contentious question. Whether that debate be in this world of ours or, as in The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, the realm of Scotland’s mythical fairies.
Proudly wearing its Yes bias on its magical sleeve, this fantastical yet stinging satire starts with festivity within the fairies’ world. It’s New Year’s Eve and Paul J Corrigan’s Bogle begins by rousing up the crowd in celebration of all things national. The tone throughout The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant is pure pantomime, a constant carousel of cheeky asides and in-jokes that this Birmingham-bred critic could appreciate in their quality regardless of cultural ignorance.
In what is a clever narrative twist on the Independence question, the meat of the play follows a courtroom scenario as various fairies debate the merits of the vote. Banshee for example wants the union to stay together because she feeds off the misery that it is bringing the nation, others fear that it is only by establishing an autonomous nation that the mythologies they themselves stand for will avoid homogenisation. Amongst a number of various set pieces it is Martin McCormick’s Black Donald who remains most memorable – a gloriously vicious demon who can’t stomach the word “happy” and wants nothing more than for Scotland to stay chained England.
Along with the enchanted characters the set in The Assembly Rooms is well realised, a collection of hand carved furniture that’s well suited to the wonders it describes. Overall The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant is just too charming to be called out and out propaganda. Though the play’s bias is inherently clear, it is played with such verve that whatever side your referendum opinion falls, a good time at the theatre can certainly be agreed upon.
The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant is at The Assembly Rooms (Venue 20) until 24 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.